The Civil Rights Movement

ESSENTIAL QUESTIONS: • To what extent was the 1950s an age of conformity in regard to politics, society, and culture? • To what extent did the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 1960s successfully address the failures of Reconstruction? To what extent did the 1960s mark a turning point in U.S. History? • What is the relationship between the Black Civil Rights Movement and the rights movements of Hispanics, women, and gays and lesbians? IN SUMMARY: In the 1950s, the Supreme Court ruled agains…
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Plessy v. Ferguson, 1896
The Supreme Court case that upheld a Louisiana segregation law on the theory that as long as the accommodations between the racially segregated facilities were equal, the equal protection clause was not violated. The Court's ruling effectively established the constitutionality of racial segregation and the notion of "separate but equal."
Truman banned racial segregation from armed forces, 1948
Executive Order 9981 is an executive order issued on July 26, 1948 by President Harry S. Truman. It abolished racial discrimination in the United States Armed Forces and eventually led to the end of segregation in the services.
Brown v. Board of Education, Topeka, KS, 1954
Supreme Court ruling reversing the policy of segregation from Plessy v Ferguson, declaring that seperate can never be equal and a year later ordered the integration of all public schools with all deliberate speed
Montgomery Bus Boycott, 1955
In 1955, after Rosa Parks was arrested for refusing to give up her seat on a city bus, Dr. Martin L. King led a boycott of city busses. After 11 months the Supreme Court ruled that segregation of public transportation was illegal.
U.S. troops send to Little Rock, 1957
To protect the Little Nine black schoolchildren who decided to attend a previously all-white high school in Little Rock, Arkansas; because riots were expected and occurring, Eisenhower sent federal protection for these Little Nine. They remained in the school for the entirety of the school year.
Civil Rights Act of 1957
primarily a voting rights bill, was the first civil rights legislation passed by Congress in the United States since Reconstruction following the American Civil War.
The Civil Rights Act of 1957 was also Congress's show of support for the Supreme Court's Brown decisions.
Greensboro sit-ins, 1960
Civil Rights tactic of blacks sitting in segregated restaurants until being served or removed. Kicks off in Greensboro, NC at Woolworth's lunch counter (white restaurant). Each day they came back with more and more protesters until they were finally served.
Freedom Riders, 1961
Group of civil rights workers who took bus trips through southern states in 1961 to protest illegal bus segregation; leaders Jim Farmer and Jim Peck
United Farm Workers (UFW) founded, 1962
A union formed by Cesar Chavez and others who gained rights and better treatment for migrant workers(of whom, the vast majority were Latino).
"Letter from a Birmingham Jail," 1963
A letter written by Martin Luther King Jr. after he had been arrested when he took part in a nonviolent march against segregation. He was disappointed more Christians didn't speak out against racism. Advocated nonviolence protest methods
March on Washington, 1963
August - 200,000 demonstrators converged on the Lincoln Memorial to hear Dr. King's speech and to celebrate Kennedy's support for the civil rights movement. (putting pressure on the federal government to pass civil rights legislation)
John F. Kennedy assassinated, November 22, 1963
In Dallas Texas in a motorcade, Kennedy was fatally shot by Lee Harvey Oswald. Many people questioned this event and believed that Oswald did not act alone or this was a government cover- up.
Civil Rights Act of 1964
A federal law that authorized federal action against segregation in public accommodations, public facilities, and employment. The law was passed during a period of great strength for the civil rights movement, and President Lyndon Johnson persuaded many reluctant members of Congress to support the law.
Watts Riots, 1965
a large-scale riot which lasted 6 days in the Watts neighborhood of Los Angeles, California, in August 1965. Though the riots began in August, there had previously been a buildup of racial tension in the area (likely fueling these race riots)
Malcolm X assassinated, 1965
Rejecting integration and nonviolence, Malcolm splits off from Elijah Muhammad's Black Muslins and is killed by them later upon declaring that blacks should use "any means necessary"
March from Selma to Montgomery, 1965
A march that was attempted three times to protest voting rights, with many peaceful demonstrators injured and killed. Lead by MLK
Voting Rights Act of 1965
A law designed to help end formal and informal barriers to African American suffrage. Under the law, hundreds of thousands of African Americans were registered and the number of African American elected officials increased dramatically. Encouraged greater social equality and decreased the wealth and education gap
Grape workers' strike begins, 1965
Farm workers went on strike and made a consumer boycott (supermarkets ban grapes). They began to be concerned abour poinson again; Chavez goes on 36 day hunger strike; failed to get them to work togther; he died in 1993 on a 1-2 day hunger strike.
Civil Rights Act of 1968
provided for equal housing opportunities regardless of race, creed, or national origin and made it a federal crime to "by force or by threat of force, injure, intimidate, or interfere with anyone ... by reason of their race, color, religion, or national origin."
Martin Luther King, Jr., assassinated, 1968
Led many to believe that the nonviolent age was over.

Martin Luther King, Jr. was an American clergyman, activist, and prominent leader of the African-American civil rights movement and Nobel Peace Prize laureate who became known for his advancement of civil rights by using civil disobedience. He was assassinated at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee on Thursday April 4, 1968, at the age of 39. King was rushed to St. Joseph's Hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 7:05pm that evening. James Earl Ray, a fugitive from the Missouri State Penitentiary, was arrested on June 8, 1968 in London at Heathrow Airport, extradited to the United States, and charged with the crime. On March 10, 1969, Ray entered a plea of guilty and was sentenced to 99 years in the Tennessee State Penitentiary. Ray later made many attempts to withdraw his guilty plea and be tried by a jury, but was unsuccessful; he died in prison on April 23, 1998, at the age of 70.
Robert F. Kennedy assassinated, 1968
The murder of RFK in a Southern California hotel after giving a speech following a victory in CA's presidential primary. He had been a prominent front runner in the elections, with support and sympathy for many hated and discriminated groups who were angry at their treatment. His major belief was that the Vietnam War was unneeded and hurt, rather than bolstered, the country, and that money could be better spent helping the poor and neglected Americans in their own country. (June 1968)
Jackie Robinson
The first African American player in the major league of baseball. His actions helped to bring about other opportunities for African Americans. Broke the color barrier in 1947
Rosa Parks
Refused to give up her seat to a white passenger. After she was jailed, the Montgomery bus boycott was organized.
Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Nonviolent leader of the civil rights movement and founder of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference
Thurgood Marshall
American civil rights lawyer, first black justice on the Supreme Court of the United States. Marshall was a tireless advocate for the rights of minorities and the poor. Argued the case of Brown v Board of Education
Cesar Chavez
Organized Union Farm Workers (UFW); help migratory farm workers gain better pay & working conditions, Non-violent leader of the United Farm Workers from 1963-1970. Organized laborers in California and in the Southwest to strike against fruit and vegetable growers. Unionized Mexican-American farm workers.
Jim Crow Laws
southern state laws designed to enforce segregation of blacks from whites (grandfather clause, poll tax, literacy tests, separate but equal, etc)
"separate but equal"
Principle upheld in Plessy v. Ferguson (1896) in which the Supreme Court ruled that segregation of public facilities was legal.
sit-in
protests by black college students, 1960-1961, who took seats at "whites only" lunch counters and refused to leave until served; in 1960 over 50,000 participated in sit-ins across the South. Their success prompted the formation of the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee.